A Non-Tutorial on Grain and Fit Check

Thea was over this weekend to give me my remedial lesson on how to find the grain in fabric.  Until now, I have just been matching selvedges, working with a lot of knits and just plain hoping my fabric was on grain.  To be honest, things have worked out so far, but I didn’t want to chance ruining my new silk twill border print dress.  I didn’t want to spend all that time making a beautiful garment only to have it twist on me due to being off grain. 

So Thea showed me how to fray the fabric until you find the straight grain all the way up and down the fabric, meaning no threads left that are shorter than the entire width of the fabric.  Even matching selvedge to selvedge, my fabric was off grain by almost  a whole inch on one side!.  That could have put a serious twist in how my dress would have hung on my body and there would have been serious shouting!  😉  

To fray the fabric, you pull threads one at a time from one selvedge to the other side until there are no more threads to pull.  This is an easy method, but it takes a long time…  I think fraying this fabric took me at least a good 1/2 hour, maybe even 45 minutes.  And you have to find the grain for each pattern piece you cut out.  That’s a serious time commitment my friends.  But as I said earlier, it is important to cut out your fabric on grain.  Good prep work in the beginning means smooth sailing and wearing later on, so it’s worth it to put in the effort now and have no regrets later.

There is another method, but it takes some practice.  Snip into your fabric at the selvedge and pull one thread all the way out.  The difficulty with this method is not breaking the thread before you have pulled it all the way out.  Ask me how I know.  🙂   I was discussing it with Claudine over email yesterday and she suggested cutting as you go so if your thread breaks you can find it again.  Great idea!  I will definitely use that helpful hint in the future as this method is way faster than fraying the fabric.  Actually it was Claudine that started me worrying me thinking about grain issues in the first place.  Here’s an example with a pulled thread…

Ok, once you’ve found your grain, you need to adjust your fabric so it’s on grain and then you cut out your fabric!  How do you do that you ask?  Well, you use your handy dandy quilting ruler or some like thing.  Fold your fabric over enough to fit your pattern piece on it and then measure down from the pulled thread or fringe equally all across the width of your fabric pinning as you go to maintain integrity.  It’s as simple as that!

And voila!  You will then have fabric that’s perfectly on grain and ready for cutting!

Now, I need your opinion please.  I pulled a 5 hour sewing sweatshop last night and got a significant amount of my second Butterick 5147 dress done.  I basted the side seams and now need to determine if I need to make any tweaks.  Working with a non stretch fabric is very different for me especially in such a fitted dress.  Wow!  I think it might be too fitted now in the back and waist.  Here are some pictures of it basted and unhemmed.  Please let me know if I need to release the side seams a little. 

Happy sewing everyone!  And happy universal holiday too!  (it’s my birthday today and I’m going to wear my Christian LaCroix skirt)  🙂


27 responses to “A Non-Tutorial on Grain and Fit Check

  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I love the Christian LaCroix skirt – go E!

    I just got my pattern and am reading the back of the envelope now (at work). The dress is supposed to be “slim fitting” so based on this, I am going to say the dress looks good on you. Try to sit and walk around in it before you release/take in anything. See how it feels.

    The only place I would take in a bit is between the waist/hip to show your figure (but that’s what I would do on me).

    Yikes I have to draft my own pattern this weekend – too many alterations to this pattern :0) so I may as well start from scratch.

    You are on dress #2 and I have yet to start.
    Great going with the dress and I love the material.

    I might need to call Thea to come help me with the “grain issue”. It is very important to cut on grain. Otherwise you might get a wadder and I try my best to avoid those if possible.

    Hope you are doing something fun to celebrate your birthday!!!

  2. Happy birthday! The dress looks wonderful on you. I love your fabric choice.

  3. Happy Birthday! I think the dress fits well as is!

  4. Happy Birthday! If you can move comfortably in the dress (sit, stand, tennis, etc.) then it’s fine. It looks good as-is.

  5. Happy Birthday! Nice lesson in finding the grain – thanks, Thea!

    Love the fabric of the dress, & think it looks swell as it is, but heck, I know nothing of alterations.

  6. Really, I don’t know much, but I see diagonal wrinkles going from waist to bust on the side. I think that means you need a little more room in the hips/waist area (someone more experienced please chime in). But very pretty dress!

  7. Happy Birthday! Enjoy your day.

  8. I think it looks fine from a fit standpoint but if you feel uncomfortable, take it out 1/4 – 1/2″ on each side. You will always be unhappy with it if you think the fit is slightly off!


  9. Happy birthday!

    I see the diagonal wrinkles from the bust to waist and from the lower hip to waist as well. I think you need a little bit more ease on the side seams in that area.

    Have you tried sitting, kneeling, walking, etc. in that dress? Is it comfortable? If so then it’s probably good.

    Let us know how the dress goes!

  10. Happy birthday!!! Hope you’re doing something fabulous on “your” day!

    I’m with Janice. I think a little more ease is required on the side seams, otherwise you’re doing to have vertical creases when you sit. LOVE the fabric choice, tho. It’s very chic!

  11. I think the dress fits you well! Happy birthday, and hope you ahve a wonderful day!

  12. The dress is looking fantastic! It looks good to me (maybe a tad more room in the front at the bust?), but I am no expert on fit.

    I am so lazy with grain. Ha!

  13. Beautiful fabric, chic style it’s going to be a winner! Happy Birthday – may your next year be filled with many more sewing successes.

  14. Happy Birthday! I adore the dress on you!

  15. Happy birthday!!!! Beautiful dress, you did a great job and that fabric is just gorgeous…. Finally got my tracing paper in the mail, so I plan to start on my dress this weekend….

  16. Happy, happy birthday! Hope you are having a great one!

  17. Happy Birthday!!!
    And Thanks for the non-tutorial!

  18. Happy Birthday Elizabeth!

  19. Happy birthday! Your dress looks good, but check you can sit down in it comfortably without any risk that the seams will tear out in the future. I have been known to overfit and forget about being able to sit in this kind of non stretch dress!

  20. Happy Birthday beautiful!

  21. Happy birthday – and sorry that my job is so insane I couldn’t talk to a birthday girl when she called today. The dress is looking great, you’re very lucky you cut into that fabric before I could come up and steal it. I’m with those who think maybe you should let the sides out a little, I think that will take care of those lines and it won’t affect the look at all.

  22. Beautiful fabric – this is going to be stunning!
    Have a great birthday!!

  23. Gosh that’s gorgeous fabric. A perfect pattern choice to highlight it.

  24. Happy (belated) birthday!! Love the fabric on that dress 🙂

  25. Happy Belated Birthday!

    This was a splendid choice for this dress. It is going to be outstanding when finished. See how this one dress can be made into so many different varieties just by changing up the fabric! You are going to be soooo work ready when you’ve made up a wardrobe of these!

    This is just soooooo lovely!

  26. Wow I love this fabric!!!!

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